Truly sustainable farming
Salmon is a sustainable, healthy and tasty food choice. It is the food of the future in a world with a rapidly growing population and an environment under pressure, where the selection of sustainable animal protein is very scarce.
Norwegian independent research organisations have analysed our CO2 emissions from production, slaughter and packaging in 2020 (SINTEF), 2021 (Asplan Viak) and 2022 (Asplan Viak). A report by the Norwegian independent research organization Asplan Viak shows that Hiddenfjord’s CO2 emissions from production, slaughter and packaging in 2021 were 4.6 kg CO2 per kg of HOG (head-on-gutted whole salmon). This means that Hiddenfjord CO2 emissions from production are 8% lower than the Norwegian industry average. Asplan Viak reports that the main reason for a lower carbon footprint of Hiddenfjord salmon is that fish mortality is lower than the average for Norwegian salmon.
Research shows that salmon has a much lower carbon footprint than pork or beef1: The CO2 produced per kg of edible meat is: pork (12.2 kg CO2), and beef (39 kg CO2).
Air freight is a major contributor to global CO2 emissions and emits around 50 times as much CO2 as sea freight. This is why Hiddenfjord has stopped all air freight and, as a result, have reduced our carbon emissions from overseas transportation by 94%.
Choosing salmon is a sustainable food choice. Choosing Hiddenfjord salmon is an even better choice regarding sustainability. Our core value is environmental sustainability, and we realize that we must take care of our environment locally and globally, so future generations can continue these activities in the same exceptional conditions as we have today. Therefore, we must farm salmon in harmony with nature, and we strive to have all our activities performed with minimum impact on the environment.
Raised in the Wild
Hiddenfjord salmon is raised in pens placed in exposed sites to obtain optimal animal welfare and to prevent seabed pollution. We choose exposed locations to raise our salmon in order to secure the best living conditions for the salmon and the best environmental sustainability.
At Hiddenfjord, we regularly gather water quality and seabed measurements to ensure optimal farming conditions. To guarantee the quality of the seabed, the Faroese Environment Agency performs inspections of the seabed for every production cycle.
After air freight, feed is the biggest contributor to the carbon footprint of salmon production. Having a low feed conversion ratio (FCR) contributes to a lower carbon footprint. To ensure that exceptional events do not significantly affect the results, we report a feed conversion ratio (FCR) over a period of three years. From 2020, 2021 and 2022, our FCR was on average 1.13 kg feed to produce 1 kg of salmon2.
We are a frontrunner in using innovative feeding systems with underwater cameras, sensors and software for detecting feed pellet distribution in the fish pens. The system is developed by Faroe Sea and is overseen by our feeding manager from our remote feeding central. The close and systematic monitoring of our feeding system has enabled the fish to reach its growth potential and helped us to reduce feed waste to an absolute minimum. Our experience clearly shows that the best living conditions for the salmon provide optimal growth and the very best taste and texture quality.
Pen Space and Fish Welfare
Regulations require that the maximum density in the pens should not exceed 25 kg/m3. However, to enhance fish welfare and to ensure that our salmon have ample room to thrive and grow, we aim to have an internal max value set to 20 kg/m3 most of the time. We regularly gather oxygen measurements in order to secure optimal animal welfare. Our sustainable approach is a vital factor in ensuring our salmon’s welfare. As a result, we have some of the best survival rates in the industry. To ensure that exceptional events do not significantly affect the results, we report a mortality rate over a period of three years. From 2020, 2021 and 2022, our fish mortality rate was on average 8%, compared to a global industry average of around 15%.
Natural Sea Lice Management
Sea lice are a natural part of a wild salmon’s life. And sea lice are a big problem for most salmon farmers. We have a sustainable approach to fight sea lice and have implemented several sustainable solutions.
Since 2010, we have done significant investments and research in order to increase the size of our fresh-water salmon (smolt) before moving them into pens in the sea. The aim of this innovative project was to reduce the time with sea lice exposure. Although this required significant investments and research, it proved highly successful in reducing the sea lice problem. Therefore, we continued this development and have now managed to increase the smolt size from the initial 80 grams to 600 grams. We have been frontrunners in the process of increasing the smolt size. This is why salmon farmers from all over the world have been visiting us for years to learn from our experience.
Another sustainable strategy to fight sea lice is moving our farming activities to more exposed locations. We strategically decrease our salmon farming in areas where we have bigger problems with sea lice and increase our farming in exposed locations with stronger currents and higher waves, where there are lower levels of sea lice. We are confident to say that we have the most exposed salmon farming in the world.
In 2014, we pioneered the use of lumpfish in all our pens as a natural way to fight sea lice. The lumpfish eat the sea lice in a natural symbiosis with the salmon. We have dedicated marine biologists and veterinarians working on lumpfish welfare, efficiency and developing new strategies. This work has been both groundbreaking and highly successful, and we have initiated several research projects about lumpfish that have received worldwide recognition.
Scientific paper in Nature
Scientific paper in Science Direct
Despite varying results with lumpfish elsewhere, our extensive research shows that our lumpfish are extremely efficient in reducing the number of sea lice on our salmon. It also establishes that the welfare of our lumpfish is continuously improving. Exposed locations secure natural living conditions and ensure optimal welfare for our lumpfish. Our unique technique of allowing seaweed to grow in the pens provides a more natural habitat for the lumpfish, which leads to fewer lesions on the lumpfish than on lumpfish in clean pens.
The Strictest Regulations
In 2003, the Faroe Islands implemented one of the most comprehensive and stringent veterinarian regulatory regimes for aquaculture in the world, the Faroese Veterinarian Act on Aquaculture. Hiddenfjord was in 1998 the initiator and the main driving force of the process that led to this new Veterinarian Act on Aquaculture in 2003. Today, we have the safest fish production environment in the world regarding diseases.
The Faroese Veterinarian Act on Aquaculture has since 2003 provided inspiration and guidance for the implementation of sustainable aquaculture standards around the world.
A unique and vital part is the “all-in, all-out” strategy. Each production site is limited to only one generation of salmon. Between each generation, all equipment has to be dismantled, thoroughly cleaned and approved by the Food and Veterinary Agency. Thereafter, the site has to lie fallow for a minimum of two months before a new generation can be raised in the area.
The strict veterinarian aquaculture legislation in the Faroe Islands has been instrumental in ensuring the welfare of our salmon. At Hiddenfjord, we are continually improving our sustainable farming practices. Some have been in place for years. For example, since the early 90’s our salmon has been completely free of antibiotics and hormones.
Today, however, the biggest challenge to the salmon industry is the sea lice. In addition to innovative successful internal changes regarding 1) production of bigger smolt, 2) strategic relocation of our farming activities to more exposed farming, and 3) the use of lumpfish to fight the sea lice, Hiddenfjord works tirelessly to strengthen the national legislation regarding sea lice. Just like in 2003, we relentlessly lobby the national authorities to strengthen the legislation to make the industry reduce the sea lice levels, and to prevent the spread of sea lice from one salmon farm to other salmon farms.
In 2009, the first sea lice regulation was introduced. The national sea lice regulation has since been made stricter several times (2014, 2016, 2017, 2021 and 2023). It is a tough battle to push for a stricter sea lice regulation for the industry. However, it is the only way to go, because it is vital to prevent the spread of sea lice from one area to another. In 2017, our lobbying efforts resulted in national sea lice numbers being made public. This led to lower sea lice levels in the Faroe Islands.
1st of June 2020, the maximum number of allowed sea lice was reduced to 1,0 sea lice per salmon. 1st of June 2021, the maximum number of allowed sea lice was reduced to 0,5 sea lice per salmon for a three-month period between 1st of May to 31st of August. Once again, Hiddenfjord has been the driving force behind these enhancements of farming regulations in the Faroe Islands. We continue to lobby for even stricter sea lice regulations.
1 Numbers regarding beef and pork are European and excl. land use change (LUC).
* Hiddenfjord numbers incl. land use change (LUC).
2 Based on a 18% difference between the live weight and the gutted salmon.